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Friday, 18 April 2014

The Brady and Warner Index Typewriter

This prototype is in the Dietz Collection at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
This would have been the world's first index typewriter - if it had gone into production. Indeed, if one takes the Sholes & Glidden-Remington 1-Remington 2 as essentially the same machine, the Brady and Warner would have been the second brand on the market. As it was, the Hall (northern autumn 1883) was the first commercially successful index typewriter, and the third new brand behind the Caligraph (northern summer 1881). 
Gilbert Arnold Brady, a Chicago manufacturing agent and real estate broker, and Francis Fullmer Warner, a Chicago patent solicitor, applied for a patent for their index machine on November 17, 1877, and it was issued on April 9, 1878, just after Brady's 51st birthday and just before the Remington 2, the first typewriter with a shift device, went on sale. It was the 56th US patent since 1829 related to writing machines.
Brady was born in New York City on April 6, 1827, while Warner was born in Waterloo, New York, in 1840. Brady moved to Illinois and was a merchant in Little Rock in 1850 and Manlius in 1860. He was in Chicago by 1870. In the interim, Warner had served in the Civil War. The pair died within months of one another, Warner on January 7, 1897, in New York City, aged 56, and Brady in Chicago on November 14, 1897, aged 70.

Happy Easter, Typospherians

This illustration promoted the coming 1893 Chicago World Columbian Exposition. Little did they know what was ahead of them ... the Blickensderfer 5! It would make them turn and stare and jump for joy.
For Richard ...
For Georg ...
And especially for Piotr (PT) who, although in Poland for Easter, still found time to send me the street scene image below:

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Welzie Raymond Shilling and the Short-Lived Shilling Brothers Typewriter: Briefly Visible and Hardly Reliable

The Shilling Brothers No 22 typewriter in the Dietz Collection at the Milwaukee Public Museum must be among the rarest of all rare typewriters. According to Typewriter Topics in A Condensed History of the Writing Machine (1923), only a few were ever made, in a few months between late 1921 and early 1922.
Nonetheless, the Shilling Brothers was, as Richard Polt pointed out in his excellent article "Saved From the Key Bandits" in the March 2009 issue of ETCetera (No 85), the "last incarnation" of a typewriter with a "noble history".
Typewriter Topics published this - the only known advertisement for the Shilling Brothers machine - in its January 1922 edition. It might almost be considered a stillbirth, since so few were made and sold, and so very few still survive. (The typewriter has also been called, in some publications, the Schilling, but it was never sold as this.)
Quite why this one-off model was called the 22 seems to remain a mystery. But its origins lie in the Pittsburg Visible No 12, a 1911 advance on the 1890 Daugherty and the original Pittsburg Visible of 1898 (Model 10, 1902; Model 11, 1908).
Soon after the No 12 was introduced in 1911, Pittsburg started work on a new design, with a squared-off top and deeper front replacing the familiar sloping sides. The machine was designed by James Denny Daugherty and John W.Paul for the Union Trust, which controlled the Pittsburg company. The changes led to production problems and the Kittanning, Pennsylvania, factory was closed in 1912. A receiver was appointed for the Pittsburg Writing Machine Company in mid-1913. The plant was sold in July 1914. Rights to the design were acquired by the Reliance Visible Typewriter Division of Montgomery Ward & Co in 1916.
Welzie Raymond Shilling in 1957. aged 68.
The man behind the final resurrection of the Pittsburgh Visible and the Reliance Visible-Reliance Premier was Welzie Raymond Shilling (also known as Welzick and Wesley Shilling).
Pittsburgh No 12 (1911)
Alan Seaver's Reliance Visible
This is Richard Polt's Spanish keyboard Aztec, which is virtually the same model as the proposed new Pittsburg Visible and the later Reliance Visible-Reliance Premier. Richard described his brilliant restoration of this rare machine in his article in ETCetera in March 2009 (No 85). He also reviewed the history of the machine from the Pittsburg through to the Shilling Brothers, including an American Model 9.
The back of the Shilling Brothers
Mark Adams' Reliance Visible. See Mark's blog post on this model here.
The brother in this enterprise was Herman Thomas Shilling. The pair arrived in Pittsburgh in 1912 and the following year established the Fort Pitt Typewriter Company - which, to the best of my knowledge, still exists. One version of the Shilling Brothers typewriter is said to be the Fort Pitt, but no examples of this are known to exist. The Shilling Brothers acquired the assets of the Pittsburg Writing Machine Company from Montgomery Ward's Reliance Visible division in 1921.
On an Underwood 5
The Shillings were born in Murphysboro, Jackson, Illinois - Welzie on September 18, 1888, and Herman on March 25, 1890. They were the sons of Kentucky-born coalminer George Shilling and his wife Lily Cooper Shilling. The divorced George appears to have raised the boys by himself in Oakwood, Illinois, from when they were a young age.
Welzie started work as a waiter in Belleville and then became a travelling typewriter salesman based in Springfield, Illinois. Herman joined Welzie in Belleville and Springfield and by the age of 19 was also a travelling typewriter salesman, based in Houston, Texas.
Certainly, by the time Welzie and Herman Shilling reached Pittsburgh, they were already experienced typewriter technicians, having travelled to various parts of the US in the course of selling and repairing machines. After founding the Fort Pitt Typewriter Company, Welzie travelled further afield, to Bermuda and Cuba, while Herman lived in England from 1925-29.
1916 advert from Mark Adams' blog post
From the early 1920s through to 1940, Welzie Shilling maintained in census returns that he was the proprietor of a typewriter factory. Whether Fort Pitt actually made typewriters, however, is questionable. Throughout its history, Fort Pitt sold a wide range of brands.
1917 advert from Mark Adams' blog post
In 1924 Fort Pitt moved from the Bakewell Building to the old McCloy Stationery Building at 644 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh. It expanded these headquarters in July 1936 and moved to a modern five-story building next door on Liberty Avenue in June 1957 (see article above, advert below). Herman had died, aged 53, in Albuquerque on August 19, 1943, and Welzie died in November 1967, aged 79, in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Close Encounter with a 1875 Sholes & Glidden (No 831)

Aside from the Federal, which caused more trouble than the effort and expense of going to Sydney was bloody well worth, the primary objective of my visit to the Powerhouse Museum was to find the serial number on the museum's Sholes & Glidden.
Dennis Clark. All typewriters lovers would be doing themselves a favour by reading the fascinating "Collector's Corner" interview with Dennis, which can be found by downloading a PDF of the September 2003 edition of ETCetera, No 63, here. (Back then, Dennis had seven Sholes & Gliddens!)
A very long time ago, I had promised Dennis Clark, of Connecticut - one of the world's leading typewriter collectors (he's been collecting since 1968) - that I would one day return to the Powerhouse and find the serial number of its Sholes & Glidden. This priceless typewriter was given to the Powerhouse by the Chartres company (Remington agents in Australia 1911-1962) in 1940.
Happily, on my second close inspection of the Sholes & Glidden I was able, by following Dennis's directions, to find and confirm the serial number is 813. That means it was made in 1875 (the first 550 S & Gs were, I gather, made in 1874).
Of course, quite apart from finding the serial number, taking the Sholes & Glidden out from where it is moth-balled in the vaults of the museum was a great chance for Powerhouse typewriter curator Matthew Connell and myself to take a very good look over the 139-year-old machine. The artwork on it is exquisite - especially where the paintings have been protected from the elements over the years (such as inside the front and back flaps).
My friend Matthew Connell has the enviable job of being curator of the Powerhouse Museum's wonderful collection of typewriters. What typewriter collector anywhere in the world wouldn't want to swap places with him? (He also looks after 19th century telegraphic equipment, recording machines and gramophones. Wow! What fun!)
December 15, 1875, advert in The Nation